Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Oxford Calculators

  • Edith D. Sylla
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_366


With Richard Swineshead’s Book of Calculations taken as its characteristic product, the “Oxford Calculators” were a group of thinkers at Oxford University in the mid-fourteenth century, most but not all of whom were associated with Merton College, for which reason they were earlier called “the Merton School,” and credited with contributions to astronomy and to the development of mathematical physics. The particularly “calculatory” features of the work of this group seem to have resulted from their connection to undergraduate disputations in the Faculty of Arts, particularly those devoted to the solution of so-called sophismata.

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Primary Sources

  1. For John Dumbleton, Richard Kilvington, Richard Swineshead, Thomas Bradwardine, Walter Burley, and William Heytesbury, see articles on these individual authors. There are extensive outlines in Latin of John Dumbleton, Summa logicae et philosophiae naturalis, Books II–VI, Roger Swineshead, Descriptiones motuum or De motibus naturalibus, Richard Swineshead, Liber calculationum, and Walter Burley, Tractatus primus and Tractatus secundus in Sylla E (1970, 1991) The Oxford Calculators and the mathematics of motion, 1320–1350. Physics and measurement by latitudes, Harvard PhD dissertation, reprint Garland PublishingGoogle Scholar
  2. Cited in this ArticleGoogle Scholar
  3. Kilvington Richard (early 1320s/1990) Sophismata. In: Kretzmann N, Kretzmann BE (eds and trans) The sophismata of Richard Kilvington, text volume Oxford University Press, Oxford, for the British Academy; volume with introduction, translation and commentary, Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Swineshead Richard (ca. 1345) Liber calculationum. Printed many times in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, including Padua, ca. 1477; Pavia, 1498; Salamanca, 1520; and Venice, 1520Google Scholar
  5. Swineshead Roger (1977) Obligationes in Paul V. Spade Roger Swyneshed’s Obligationes: edition and comments. AHDLMA 44:243–285Google Scholar
  6. Swineshead Roger (1979) Insolubilia in Paul V. Spade, Roger Swyneshed’s Insolubilia: edition and comments. AHDLMA 46:177–220Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

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  2. Clagett M (1959) The science of mechanics in the Middle Ages. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison. Includes many texts and translations from the more physical of the works of the Oxford CalculatorsGoogle Scholar
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  14. Sylla ED (1970/1991) The Oxford Calculators and the mathematics of motion, 1320–1350. Physics and measurement by latitudes. Harvard University dissertation. Now published in Harvard university dissertations in history of science with a new preface. Garland, New York/LondonGoogle Scholar
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  23. Sylla ED (2004) Mathematics in the Liber de Triplici Motu of Alvarus Thomas of Lisbon. In: Saraiva L, Leitão H (eds) The practice of mathematics in Portugal. Acta Universitatis Conimbricensis. Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, pp 109–161Google Scholar
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  27. Weisheipl JA (1969) Repertorium Mertonense. Medieval Stud 31:174–224. Lists manuscripts of the works of the Oxford CalculatorsGoogle Scholar
  28. Wilson C (1960) William Heytesbury: medieval logic and the rise of modern physics. University of Wisconsin Press, MadisonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edith D. Sylla
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of HistoryNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleigh, NCUSA